Sai Baba EXPOSED!

18 April 2006

Sai Baba: A Whiff of Fraud

Recent discussions on the subject of Sai Baba's 'paranormal' phenomena, like vibhuti (holy ashes) and amrit (nectar) oozing from his pictures and idols, prompted me to relate an experience that I once had while a Sai devotee.

Back in my college days, travelling to the college naturally required me to cross a few streets when walking to the building. One morning, just as I was about to turn into a street crossing and walk over, the most fantastic smell entered my nostrils. It was the well-documented jasmine smell that is associated with the Baba and it was unmistakably 'his' scent, and which led me to the conclusion that Sai Baba was near me in a disembodied and etheric form. Similar experiences have been reported by other devotees. I would have liked to have stopped there and inhale more of "the divine presence" had I not been conscious of my educational committments, and so I thanked Sai Baba for his presence with me that morning and moved on.

A few months later I found the same smell assaulting my nostrils. I was initially filled with a sense of wonder and was about to thank Sai Baba for his divine omnipresence again when I suddenly realised that I was at the same street-crossing and it was around the same time as the previous experience!

Something sure smelled fishy, pun not intended, and I took a few minutes to do some detective work. I discovered that the smell was originating from a shop about 4-6 meters away from the street-crossing, a dry-cleaning business run by an Indian family. As a part of their own religiosity they had the custom of offering prayers to God before they started work, and sure enough there was a couple of agarbatti (incense) sticks burning in front of a deity's picture. The smell had wafted out into the street because the shop door was kept open, and as I neared the entrance to the shop the smell became stronger. Incidentally, this family were devotees of Sathya Sai Baba though I do not recall noticing his picture there.

I was disgusted. Sick and thoroughly disgusted. Not only did I have to suffer the painful realisation that Sai Baba was not with me at those instances, but I had to deal with the fact that I had bought into the propaganda that such events were typical of Sai Baba's "omnipresence" when they had a perfectly mundane and rational explanation. It also made me wonder about the authenticity of the other experiences recorded by Sai devotees. Knowing their capacity for exaggeration, it's perfectly possible that a large number of "omnipresence" instances accompanied by otherworldly smells and other 'signs' can have their occurrences explained in a similarly rational manner.




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